Thursday, September 11, 2008


On 25 August, I had surgery to see if my right shoulder prosthesis (one of three -- prostheses, not shoulders) was infected and needed removal. After finding 4 pockets of pus and having the prosthesis fall out of its own accord, I wasn't doing well. So they decided to keep me on the ventilator, hide me in the ICU, and not close the wound. On 29 August, the second surgery was performed with the goal of "washing out" the wound, putting in several drains, and inserting a sorry looking cement spacer impregnated with antibiotics.

My cultures were inadvertently left in the OR overnight, so what organisms were growing became a topic of consternation between my surgeon and his staff and the infectious disease guru and his minions.

I did, however, clearly grow MRSA, and so spent my 10-day stay in isolation. Yellow is a most unbecoming color and Fred found those blue gloves hot and cruel.

My supremely talented orthopedic surgeons are adroit at deflecting my pleas for promises of a new prosthesis in a few months -- they just won't commit. My main orthopod does a bad imitation of a spastic retard when I ask him what my arm movements would be like without a shoulder.

He fails to understand that this would leave me with one functional extremity. He fails to understand, indeed, everyone seems to fail to understand, that I cannot lose any more.

Did you hear me?

I cannot lose any more.

I am on i.v. antibiotics at home -- vancomycin and *bleep* (I cannot remember and don't feel up to rolling into the kitchen). So that is 4 infusions a day for 6 weeks. It is not a big deal -- except insofar as it reminds me of circumstances I'd rather ignore for a bit.

The pain is horrible but I believe the management of it is at the optimum.

(Don't touch that sentence... It was difficult enought to formulate once -- I won't do it again.)

The Friday before surgery, I had an echocardiogram to rule out endocarditis, as I have a bicuspid aortic valve. Thankfully, I came out "clean." Oh, except for the aortic arch aneurysm that is currently measuring at about 4.7 cm. The cardiologist who called and reamed me out for missing a few years of testing was not hesitant to scare me to death.

So there is much on my mind and much that is hurting the body -- the CRPS/RSD, for example, is unbelievably inflamed (my legs have never ever looked/felt this terrible).

Despite getting two units of blood to boost my hemoglobin of 6 -- I am tired and wonder what my H & H is now. My surgeon's admonition of how to go about life until seeing him at the 6 week mark? "Rest and think healing thoughts." What a lovely man, not to mention a talented physician. I don't know if it is technically true, but my heart says that he saved my life.

Well, off I go to try and catch up on some reading in the ether of the blogosphere... Thank you for any stray good thoughts you can label and let loose on my behalf in the coming weeks.